17.4. Palm Sunday (PALMUSUNNUNTAI)
The "silent week", the week before Easter, begins on Palm Sunday. The week ends with the double holiday of Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Easter is called PÄÄSIÄINEN in Finnish.
According to an old custom in Finland, you wish your friends and relatives good health by whisking them lightly with decorated willow twigs (VIRPOVITSA) on Palm Sunday. In return they may give you a little token, traditionally an egg or sweets at Easter.
Similar kind of secular rituals are a part of the Easter tradition also in many other European countries. The origin is biblical: People greeted Jeesus by swinging palm fronds, when He rode to Jerusalem. The southern palms were replaced by willow twigs in the north.
The blossoms of willow (PAJUNKISSAT) mark the awakening of spring, and are used as Easter decorations in Finland. At Easter (or on Palm Sunday) you may also see little children with painted faces and scarves tied around their heads, carrying broomsticks, coffee pots and bunches of decorated VIRPOVITSA. Little children dress themselves as "Easter witches" (PÄÄSIÄISNOITA) and go from door to door greeting people with good luck poems in return for a coin, an Easter egg or sweets.
Some traditional Finnish good luck poems for Palm Sunday:
"Virvon varvon tuoreeks terveeks tulevaks vuodeks. "Virvon varvon vitsasilla, tuorehilla tervehillä,
Vitsa sulle, palkka mulle."
vanhat virvon viisaammiksi, nuoret ylen notkehiksi,
iloisiksi kaikki muut, kilteiksi pienet piimäsuut!"
SITR/ Maria Virtanen 11.4.2011
(15 Apr 2011)